Catch Up on ‘BPRD’: Hell On Earth Approaches (Seriously)
A brand new story arc from the Hellboy spin-off “BPRD” kicked off this week, with the tantalizingly-titled “BPRD: Hell on Earth – New World” #1. “BPRD: Hell on Earth” is the official new title of the series, replacing “BPRD,” and it accurately describes the brand new status quo. Dark Horse’s “BPRD” is one of those series that manages to produce quality stories month-in, month-out, but still manages to be somehow underrated and nowhere near as widely read as it deserves to be. Make no mistake: “BPRD” is one of the best books on the stands. Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis, and the rest of the gang are churning out great stories with high stakes. “BPRD” dabbles in horror, mystery, and action/adventure, and the genres melt and blend into each other seamlessly.
Unlike many superhero comics, “BPRD” is meant to be picked up and understood with the barest minimum of continuity. But! If you absolutely must know the nitty gritty of what’s going on, ComicsAlliance has your back. What follows is a spoiler-heavy recap of the major figures in “BPRD,” so if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this post. We aren’t going to ruin everything for you, but this will catch you up with everything you need to know to jump in feet-first.Of course, at this point, “BPRD” is thirteen volumes deep, which is a stiff investment for even the most voracious of collectors. A lot has happened, the cast has expanded, and the threats have evolved from a creeping menace stalking the forests to outright inhuman horrors. The world of “BPRD,” originally based in something like our world, has changed drastically.
The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense was founded in 1944 by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm to uncover and defend against paranormal threats. The BPRD has license to operate worldwide and is far from a secretive organization. If you have a problem with ghosts or vampires, you call the BPRD. Over the years, it has grown in stature, and features an expanded staff and vast resources.
They have several investigators with paranormal abilities, including Hellboy, Johann Kraus, Abe Sapien, and Liz Sherman. These agents take point in the field, getting down and dirty on the front lines, while the normal human agents provide backup. The BPRD’s mandate has expanded from simple ghost hunting and research to taking part in or planning paramilitary activities in countries around the world.
After finally vanquishing an onslaught of frog creatures in North America, however, the BPRD found themselves knee deep in a global disaster. Some of the Ogrdu Hem, the children of the Ogdru Jahad (the seven-headed beast of Revelation and a menace in “Hellboy”), have been loosed upon the world. They emit smoke that changes people into monsters and are here to pave the way for the end of mankind. The BPRD, despite failing to hold back the apocalypse, have been taken under the umbrella of the United Nations, making them a truly global outfit, with all of the resources that position requires. A vision in “BPRD: King of Fear” suggests that the BPRD will get flying helicarriers like Nick Fury uses, for example.
The frog creatures represent the final evolution of mankind and are beings fit for the post-apocalyptic setting that “BPRD” is galloping toward. The BPRD has spent the past several years, in both comic-time and real-time, battling the frog creatures. These creatures ran rampant over the American midwest and elsewhere before being corralled by a man known as the Black Flame. He attempted to use their power to resurrect and control Katha-Hem, one of the Ogrdu Hem. The Black Flame soon found himself being controlled by the frogs, rather than controlling them, and was dragged into a pit shortly after the death of Katha-Hem. The frogs have slowly inched toward their goal of preparing the way for the Ogdru Hem, and while they aren’t the biggest threat any longer, they definitely changed the face of the world.
Hellboy, after leaving the BPRD years ago, has been gallivanting around the world. He’s hit Europe, Africa, and even spent some time on the bottom of the ocean. Everywhere he goes, people keep trying to kill him, make cryptic pronouncements regarding his destiny, or both. Since he’s been busy fighting witches and giants in the woods, he has no idea what’s going on with the BPRD. He’s worried about other things — like an oncoming supernatural war in England with the Queen of Blood — anyway. He’s had kind of a hard time, so can you really blame him for drinking on the job?
Abe Sapien is still running field operations for the BPRD. Over the course of the series, he has discovered the secret of his past, and “King of Fear” spread some light on his future, as well. But Abe has rejected both his past and his future, preferring instead to stick with today and remain true to his friends and allies. The nature of his future may result in strife between him and the agents of the BPRD at some point, mainly due to the particulars of his relationship with the frog monsters, but Abe just wants to live as he is, rather than how someone says he will be. When he’s not avoiding his past, he’s out searching for Ben Daimio, former BPRD captain and full-time were-jaguar.
Liz Sherman, firestarter, left the BPRD after the events of “King of Fear.” However, she was already distant and falling out of the BPRD before that catastrophe struck. Her fire powers appear to be gone, and she’s one of the precious few beings on Earth who know exactly what happens if the BPRD loses the next stage of their war. A dead old man has been trying to put her on the path to save the world, but she has reacted with fear and a lack of trust repeatedly. Her fire powers have been shown to be extremely effective against the frogs and the Ogdru Hem, which makes her a key weapon in the fight against the monsters. However, is she ready to join that fight?
Johann Kraus has been a disembodied spirit for several years and requires a special containment suit to maintain his cohesion. Johann’s psychic sensitivity and lack of a body allowed him to be possessed by the spirit of Lobster Johnson, which forced Dr. Kate Corrigan to take Johann to Hunte Castle in Austria. After arriving there, Lobster Johnson left Johann’s spirit and resumed doing what he does best: fighting Nazis and monsters. Johann has returned to active duty with the BPRD, but his search for a human body may prove to be a mistake.
“Hell on Earth – New World” introduces the all-new status quo of the BPRD. While the frogs have been mostly vanquished, having the Ogdru Hem as an ongoing threat is a definite raising of the stakes for the BPRD and the world at large. While the BPRD attempted to contain and eliminate the frog menace, they now have to actively combat and eradicate an entirely new level of bad guy.
Simply put, if you aren’t reading “BPRD”… you’re making a mistake. This book is fantastic, and has a habit of upping its game with each new volume. Get in on “Hell on Earth – New World” before all your friends discover it and tell you how cool it is.